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Riot rebuild sees Design for London expand

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Design for London has admitted it is in ‘urgent need’ of more staff to help with a raft of post-riot rebuilding projects

The organisation plans to hire three new staff to join its 14-strong team of architects and ‘place shaping’ designers.

One permanent position has been advertised but Design for London head Mark Brearley said he was also ‘keen to hear from people’ and would hire temps to meet the ‘urgent need’ placed on his department.

The news comes just seven months after the group – thought to be the UK’s largest surviving public sector architects’ office – was rescued from closure by the Greater London Authority.

Around 45 specialist staff were transferred from Design for London’s former home, the London Development Agency, to the mayor’s office after the agency’s £480 million funding was withdrawn by the government last autumn.

Brearley said: ‘We are already running the outer London fund which is focussed on high streets and we are playing a significant role in two other funds – the mayor’s regeneration fund and the London enterprise fund.’

The £20 million government-backed London enterprise fund is specifically focussed on the riot-hit Croydon and Tottenham areas while the £50 million mayor’s regeneration fund is open to all boroughs.

Brearley said his department was a ‘very useful part of the skill set’ required to improve areas worse hit by the unprecedented disturbances over the summer.

He added: ‘Certainly this £50 million and £20 million has come since the riots and I think the riots have magnified some other challenges.

‘The geography of rioting and looting and destruction was focussed on high street places and it reminds you that those are the focus of life and we have to make those places better and better.’

Design for London has already moved its offices from Will Alsop’s Palestra building in Southwark to the Norman Foster-designed ‘space helmet’ City Hall (pictured). It is understood the organisation will now become part of the mayor’s planning directorate.

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